Couple left stunned as Sir Richard Branson crashes Vegas wedding

Malcolm and Jacqui King-MacKinnon were stunned when Sir Richard Branson crashed their wedding vow renewal ceremony
-Credit: (Image: Virgin Atlantic)

A couple were left stunned when Sir Richard Branson crashed their wedding in Las Vegas.

Malcolm and Jacqui King-MacKinnon had expected an Elvis impersonator to carry out the ceremony in the US city last week.

The couple, who work as crew members for Virgin Atlantic and met while working on a flight together in 1988, said they were 'gobsmacked' when Sir Richard interrupted the renewal of their wedding vows.

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Dressed in a red blazer, black shirt and matching sunglasses, the Virgin Atlantic founder walked into The Little White Wedding Chapel and told the lookalike, “Hang on, that’s my job”.

Sir Richard then officiated the ceremony himself in a surprise organised by Virgin Atlantic as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations.

Malcolm and Jacqui, who live in Heswall, Wirral, first met on a flight from Gatwick Airport to Newark, New Jersey, in 1988.

After spotting Jacqui in the iconic red uniform, Malcolm offered to help her with her luggage. Forty years on, the couple are married with two children.

Malcolm and Jacqui King-MacKinnon
Malcolm and Jacqui King-MacKinnon -Credit:Malcolm King-MacKinnon

Malcolm and Jacqui were in Vegas while working on the airline’s new route between Manchester and Las Vegas, which launched earlier this month. Fellow Virgin Atlantic crew members and the company's CEO Shai Weiss were in attendance at the ceremony.

Speaking afterwards, Malcolm, who works as a flight service manager at Virgin Atlantic, said: "We had no idea that the boss was going to turn up, I was absolutely gobsmacked.

"My heart was racing. There was a lot of emotion in the room, it was a lovely moment."

Virgin Atlantic arranged the surprise to mark its 40th birthday this year
Virgin Atlantic arranged the surprise to mark its 40th birthday this year -Credit:Virgin Atlantic

He added: "They call it love at first sight but for us it was love at first flight. Today has been incredible and it means so much to Jacqui, our daughters and myself.

"Virgin Atlantic brought us together and has given us opportunities to explore the world and create countless memories we’ll cherish forever. We look forward to continuing the celebrations and for many more years together, in the skies and beyond!”

Sir Richard Branson said: “Our incredible people are what makes Virgin Atlantic so special – they are mavericks, trailblazers, they are kind and fun. Getting to celebrate two of those people who have been with us since day one was an honour.

"Malcolm and Jacqui’s love story started at Virgin Atlantic, which makes them part of the family. They’re also proof that we’ve been bringing people together for the moments that matter for four decades – in a way that only Virgin Atlantic can.”

Before joining Virgin Atlantic in 1984, Malcolm, who hails from Troon in Scotland, worked as a welder on oil rigs in the North Sea.

He recalled: "I remember coming outside after a heavy night shift and looking up and see this aircraft and thinking 'there has to be more to life than this'.

Jacqui and Malcolm had expected an Elvis impersonator to carry out the ceremony
Jacqui and Malcolm had expected an Elvis impersonator to carry out the ceremony -Credit:Virgin Atlantic

"I was making a lot of money but it wasn't me. I've always loved to travel but I had no idea what I was going to do."

He successfully interviewed for an air steward position at Virgin Atlantic, which had only just launched out of Gatwick Airport.

Malcolm says he was 'a single boy running about having fun' before he met Jacqui in the staff car park at Gatwick Airport in April 1988.

After spotting Jacqui, who is the daughter of Tranmere Rovers legend John King, getting out of her car in her Virgin Atlantic uniform, Malcolm offered to help her with her luggage.

"The rest is history," said Malcolm, 64. "We had a couple of drinks that night and got on famously. Looking back, it was love at first sight."

A young Jacqui and Malcolm
A young Jacqui and Malcolm -Credit:Malcolm King-MacKinnon

They were married in St Lucia in 2004 and now have two daughters together, Niamh, 20, and Freya, 18. Following the birth of their daughters, childcare commitments meant the couple were unable to fly together until earlier this year when they allowed to fly together from their base at Manchester Airport to Barbados.

Among his career highlights Malcolm lists being the supervisor on a plane that flew dozens of hostages out of Jordan during the Gulf War in 1990.

"There was a lot of tension in the air," he said. "It all had to be done quickly.

"It was get in, get out, get the deal done quickly then close the door and let's go. We were on the ground for 50 minutes.

"I could see soldiers holding them back until the deal had been done. When the last hostage jumped on I dould see the anxiety on their face.

"As the jet set off I rememebr looking out of the window and thinking there's a fighter jet out there, what's going to happen here?

"We could easily have been blown out of the sky."

Malcolm and Jacqui will enjoy a second honeymoon on a Virgin Voyages cruise later this year.